It looks like Bears who play together, stay together. On Thursday, Cal women’s soccer senior All-Americans Emily Boyd and Indigo Gibson were drafted just three picks apart (15th and 18th, respectively) in the second round of the National Women’s Soccer League, or NWSL, draft, and they are both headed to the Chicago Red Stars.
They will join Taylor Comeau, a fellow Bear who has played with the Red Stars since 2016. Chicago had six picks in the NWSL draft, and four of their incoming players hail from California schools — Cal, Pepperdine and UCLA.
Together on defense, Boyd and Gibson operated as one smooth machine. Gibson slowed down or stopped oncoming attacks, and Boyd was able to communicate her vision of the field, usually anticipating an opponent’s next move.
As a whole, Cal’s defense ranked T-1st in the Pac-12 in goals allowed (nine) and second for goals against average (0.46).
Pick any game from the past season, save for the first round of the NCAA tournament, and you would find Gibson on defense. Having played every minute of the regular season, she became the inevitable leader on defense for the Bears.
Boyd was the brick wall in goal throughout the season, and she was arguably the reason the team had such a successful season.
In her four years at Cal, Boyd had the most career shutouts of the program with 36 and finished first in program history with 294 saves. The most goals she allowed in any game by an opponent was two, and she was deservedly awarded the Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year award at the end of the 2017 season.
The Chicago Red Stars, whose season takes place from April to September, finished fourth out of the 10 teams that make up the NWSL. Qualifying for the NWSL tournament semifinals, the Red Stars lost as they gave up a late goal to the eventual champion, the North Carolina Courage.
Gibson and Boyd will be playing alongside top players, including long-time U.S. Women’s National Team stars Julie Ertz and Christen Press and recent national team upcomers Sofia Huerta, Alyssa Naeher and Casey Short.
Despite their success with the Bears, starting spots won’t be easy to claim for Gibson or Boyd, as they both face high competition at their respective positions.
Boyd will be working with Naeher, the current national team’s starting goalkeeper and Michele Dalton. Gibson will be able to to play alongside Ertz, a Santa Clara alumna and top defender for the national team, and Short, who has played in 19 games with the national team. Experience with great players at a professional level will only positively shape both Boyd and Gibson in their styles of play and put them on track for positive professional and national careers.
Playing with Chicago will open up a bright future for these two Bears. The duo, who was recently called to the first U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team training camp of 2018, has never once looked out of place on the field, and playing with a new team in a new city shouldn’t change that.
Sophie Durham covers women’s soccer. Contact her at